Guest Post: Telecom Action in Pakistan

Posted on July 7, 2006
Filed Under >Babar Bhatti, Economy & Development, Science and Technology
9 Comments
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By Babar Bhatti

Recently the telecom sector in Pakistan has attracted a lot of attention from international investors – and for the right reasons: it is one of the fastest growing sector with a huge potential market.

Looking at the billboards and media advertisements of mobile phones in Pakistan it is hard to believe that until a few years ago there was no one else except for a PTCL monopoly. The government seems determined to make use of this opportunity to attract foreign investment. For example, The International Herald Tribune recently reported:

Overseas investment in Pakistan’s telecommunications industry is expected to hold at $1 billion a year until at least 2009, said Shahzada Alam Malik, head of market regulator Pakistan Telecommunications Authority. As many as 50 percent of Pakistan’s 160 million people are expected to use telephones by that time, up from 23 percent in March this year and 4.3 percent in 2003, he said… Pakistan, South Asia’s fastest growing telecommunications market, added as many as 2.6 million cellular users in April, according to a report by the regulator released that month.

The increasing competition should theoretically be good for the Pakistani consumers as well, but only if the regulatory framework does what it is supposed to do. There remains some concern from the consumers about service and rates. The question is: Is Pakistan Telecommunication Authority doing a good job of looking out for the consumers in Pakistan?

Babar Bhatti is a Telecom professional based in Dallas, Texas. See more at Babar’s blog: State of Telecom Industry in Pakistan.

9 responses to “Guest Post: Telecom Action in Pakistan”

  1. sabizak says:

    @ Naveed Siraj. You make it sound like its some kind of award to have your song plagiarized and have ‘made it in Bollywood’.
    Shameless plug here but since its relevant to the topic at hand, please allow me

    http://sabizak.blogspot.com/2006/07/enough.html

  2. Naveed Siraj says:

    Joshua – Investing through stocks would be a good start. Would recommend that you read about the Pak Stock Exchanges & the volatility associated with them but by far Karachi Stock Exchange is the most promising with an increase ten thousand points since the take over by Musharaf… I do not think any Telco is listed on the exchange yet except for PTCL & my knowledge of their ownership of Ufone (among the top 3 telco operating in the country) limited…PTCL, previously a state-owned organization has been disinvested by the Govt of Pakistan by offering 27% shared to Etisalat of UAE for USD2.5B

    Babar – I sure hope that the Wimax deal sees the light of day. I have only read in the papers about it but the whole country have WiFi, i am drooling since I read this… it can bring a sea-change for the backward areas as connectivity can result in a massive turn around in quality of life

    MSK – dont know if you are writing from Pakistan but yes Sonia Jehan is the daughter of Akbar Khan, Noor Jehan’s eldest son from her first marraige with Shaukar Hussain Rizvi…Akbar passed away a couple of years ago soon after his mother’s death in Karachi. Sonia Jehan has a french mother who I understand is herself ill but running an excellent restaurant within the compound of Alliance Francais called the Cafe Blu
    Sonia lives in New Delhi as she is married to an Indian national so her recent spate of adverts with Telenor & one diary product franchise. I saw a rare interview of Sonia on one of the cable channels conducted beautifully (a rarity in Pakistan) by Sajid Al, the TV drama actor..in this Sonia even admitted that she sang but she toyed by Sajid Ali and the viewers of giving him a sample of her voice off camera…

    The guy in the advert is Ali Zafar popular among the younger generation….He is a NCA graduate, took some music lessons from the great Farida Khanum…don’t know what she was thinking but yes the boy has talent and has an amazing similarity to Kishore Kumar….some have accused him of forcing the Kishore factor but i think it is just his good luck… the one track on his album that you may wish to listen to (should be available online) is “chal dil mairay” … interestingly 3 songs from his album have already been plaigarized & have made it in Bollywood…

  3. Babar Bhatti says:

    Joshua – good question. I’ll write about investment opportunities and means soon.

    Naveed – accurate analysis and interesting observations. Good to know the equivalent of Zeta-Jones (T-Mobil Ads in US) in Pakistan :)

    The whole challenge is to dig up opportunities from the chaos that distracts most. The recent Wimax deal between Warid/Motorola is promising. I hope this boom serves not only the investors and PTA/PTCL executives but also the general public.

  4. MSK says:

    Is the woman in this Telnor ad. really Noor Jehan’s grand daughter – the one working in Indian films? The guy is this new singer who is very popular these days, right?

  5. Naveed Siraj says:

    joshua, firstly, the real Pakistan would have to be treated as a market (viable or otherwise for your specific investment) but as you venture into this evaluation, it is important that there is disassociation of the market from the stigmatized country ie., terrorism..the BBC, CNN & FoxNews of the world have done immense damage

    once you destigmatize the market, the principal premise of the business plan is demographics & the greatest asset working in favor for the country is an emerging consumer economy…

    i am associated with information technology & it is the total addressible market that gets redrawn reinvented due to high growth on a yearly basis..

    according to some people Pakistan is among the top 5 countries for Nokia from a handset market potential…

    connectivity was always a problem in pakistan but as the grip over telecom infrastructure loosens you see crudest forms of this paradigm shift

    interesting example is that of sanitation workers (bhungee/jamadar in local lingo) carrying a mobile phone as a source of revenue…more calls he takes more customers he can serve, then with severe shortage of water

    besides that, as a small investor there are agencies available that can help you but a trip to pakistan would be worth your while

    for old timers like me, the fact that Noor Jehan’s grand-daughter is appearing on telenor bilboards across the country is a case of more things change the more they remain the same :)

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